Sunday, November 30, 2008

Destructive Writing Distractions

I have always had to-lists. It's a scatterbrain coping mechanism. It helps keep me focused. Everything must be checked off the list before I can go to sleep at night. Sometimes I can fudge and start tomorrow's list with things left over from the day before (I'm not OCD -really!). But most often, I just finish the list.

My writing is like this too. I don't have written lists, but I do have little rituals. As soon as I sit in my chair I check email. Next, I skim the Verla Kay boards for anything new since the last time I looked. It doesn't take long. Usually, no more than an hour or so has passed since the last time I looked. I check my blog to see who has stopped by. And finally, I open the Visual Thesaurus I have booked marked on the computer to use as a writing reference (great site BTW). At this point I am ready to write.

Lately I've added another little ritual to my writing routine. This one, however, has turned out to be a problem. I hate to admit it, but I've started playing games on the computer. The shame! I think I will simply play 10 minutes, just for fun. When I'm done, I'll get right back to writing. Except 10 minutes turns into 30, then 60. Before I know it, my writing time is wasted and I've accomplished nothing. My daily to-do list isn't completed, and I have to push writing to the next day.

Today, I'm deleting the game I downloaded. It's become a destructive distraction - an excuse for not finishing a WIP. Time to get back to business!

What are your distractions?

Friday, November 28, 2008

One Month of Blogging!

So, I've now been blogging for one month, and I've learned a few things:

1. Never make public goals that are impossible to keep (NanoWriMo).
2. Blogging is addicting.
3. Edit before you post.
4. Visit other blogs.
5. Bloggers are fun people!!

I'm looking forward to the next month of blogging!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


LibraryThing is a cool tool that helps you create a library-quality catalog of your books. It’s easy to join. Simply go to the site, enter a user name and password, and you’re done. You can set up your books on a “bookshelf” or in a list. The first 200 books entered are free, or you can enter as many as you like for $10 (year) or $25 (life).

The site allows you to search, sort, and edit book information. I typed in my titles, and the Library of Congress or Amazon filled in the rest of the information. You can also rate your books and write reviews. Because you catalog online, LibraryThing can connect you with people who read the same things. You can keep your library private, or you can share your profile. Your profile connects you to people who share your books.

The website also allows you to create and join groups – much like Yahoo groups. You can start clubs or private groups for friends. You can also participate in the group forum called “Talk.” The forum system allows you to see the conversations happening in all groups or just your groups.

Another feature is called LibraryThing Local. LibraryThing Local keeps track of bookstore events, library and book festivals, author readings, signings, and discussions in your area. 

Take a few minutes and check it out. Take the tour. It's worth the visit. Have fun! 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Magic Thief: Book Review

Lately, my pleasure reading time has been somewhat sparse. So when I picked up The Magic Thief, by Sarah Prineas, the plan was to have it read by Thanksgiving. I read the first chapter and was hooked. My to-do list was no longer important. Chores, schoolwork, family (sorry guys); everything took a back seat to a fabulous tale!

The story takes place in Wellmet, a city-state that runs on a dwindling supply of magic. Conn, a lock-pick and thief who lives in the dangerous streets of Twilight, should have died when he picked a locus magicalicus stone from the pocket of the wizard, Nevery Flinglas. Surprised that Conn lived; Nevery takes him on at first as a servant, and then as a wizard’s apprentice - if Conn can find a locus magicalicus of his own. But between wizarding lessons held at the Academicos and helping Nevery solve the mystery of Wellmet’s disappearing magic, there isn’t much time to find his stone. Conn must convince Nevery that a fellow wizard is consorting with the city’s cruel Underlord before the magic completely fades away, and the city dies.

Sarah Prineas’ characters jumped off the page and into my heart. Conn is a quiet observer. He’s intelligent and honorable. His voice rings true, and I was sympathetic to him from the beginning. My favorite secondary character is Benet – a hired thug and bodyguard who likes to knit and cooks a good biscuit.

The Magic Thief is the first in a planned trilogy. I am already impatiently awaiting the second book!

Publisher: HarperCollins 6/2008

Nano update: 7704 words

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Who Are Those Kids, Anyway?

I've decided to take up Rena's wedding photo challenge. After rummaging through the cobwebs in the crawl space I located the album (and decided I should probably store it someplace other than the crawl space). 

Robb and I met at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. We were both kids in college, music majors, working our way through school by performing in the park's shows. I was a singer/dancer, and he played his trombone in the band. Our first date was a ride on the Blue Streak after a show and a quick trip into town for a late night Taco Bell snack. Cedar Point was a great place for two (poor!) college kids to get to know each other. Employees stayed in dorms or apartments (my dorm was a whoppin' $14 a week). We would meet at the beach by the Hotel Breakers around 11 a.m. each day to work on the all-important summer tan. Employees had free run of the park, so we would often take advantage of the roller coasters and other rides. In the fall we would go back to school - he attended the University of Michigan. I was in Ohio at Wright State. We wouldn't meet up again until summer. After our 3rd summer we both accepted a year-long contract from the park to perform in a touring group. Robb proposed the following May, and we married in October.  We just celebrated our 23rd anniversary!  

Nano update: 6890 Words (sigh)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Awesome Blog Award...

GOES TO...   The Bookshelf Muse!

I am proud to say I am an "Esteemed Stalker" of The Bookshelf Muse: a collection of musings about reading, writing and other randomness. 

Troubles writing a description? Not a problem. A simple trip to Angela and Becca's Setting Description Thesaurus will put your thinker back in gear. Does your character have issues with expression? Visit the Emotion Thesaurus - "an 'idea bank' for the times when you get stuck." 

I have recommended this site not only to my writer friends, but also to my coworkers who teach writing. Keep it coming, ladies! Terrific site!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guide to Literary Agents

A Cincinnati chapter of SCBWI invited Chuck Sambuchino, Editor of 2009 Guide to Literary Agents, to speak tonight at their monthly meeting. Here are a few highlights from his presentation:

What can an agent do for you?
  • a reputable agent is familiar with the needs of the current market and will evaluate your manuscript accordingly
  • they should determine the quality of your piece and whether it is saleable
  • when your manuscript sells, your agent should negotiate a favorable contract and clear up any questions you have about payments
  • agents have limitations - representation does not guarantee sales - it only recognizes potential in your writing
  • some agents may offer criticism or advice on how to improve your work
Chuck shared terrific information about writing queries and novel synopsis. You can find his notes in his blog through the link below: 
Have these 5 things ready
  1. Logline: 1 sentence summary 
  2. Pitch: 3-6 sentence summary (also known as book jacket pitch)
  3. Short synopsis: Front to back telling of the story. Introduces characters, conflict, and includes ending. Told in present tense. 1 page single spaced, or 2 pages double-spaced.
  4. Long synopsis: General rule of thumb - one page summary per 30 pages text
  5. Full (spotless) manuscript

You can sign up for the free Guide to Literary Agents newsletter, which provides information on literary agents, script agents, writer' conferences, playwriting and writing opportunities in general at 

Chuck's blog contains great information about where and how to find the right agents to represent your work.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just For Fun...

It's a Star Wars Kind of Weekend here in my house.  Enjoy! 

Nano Word Count: 5762

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Little Help From Star Wars

I have a new writing mantra:

"DO. Or do not. 
          There is 
                    NO TRY."

Thank you, Yoda...

Nano word count: 5219

Friday, November 7, 2008

RULES: Book Review

RULES, by Cynthia Lord, is a book about the impact of living with a child with disabilities. It's told from the perspective of 12-year-old Catherine, a budding artist who just wants a "normal" life. Her brother, David, has autism, and family life centers around his needs. David's behaviors embarrass Catherine and make it difficult for her to fit in. She teaches him "rules" in hopes that one day life can be normal. Rules such as,"Keep your pants on in public," and "It's fine to hug Mom, but not the clerk at the video store." When Kristi moves in next door, Catherine hopes they will be come friends, but she worries that David's behaviors will drive Kristi away. One day while accompanying David on his occupational therapy visit, Catherine meets Jason. Jason is wheelchair bound and unable to speak. Through Catherine's art and Jason's communication board, they develop a friendship. Catherine's conflicting feelings of what is right and wanting to fit in result in shocking behavior on her part. She is left to consider, "What is normal?" 

It isn't often I choose to read books that tackle the topic of disabilities. My reading tends to be somewhat escapist. Borders Bookstore was handing out complimentary teacher's editions of a book with a rubber duck on the cover. I took it, along with posters, pencils, and bookmarks because it was free. I was not prepared for how deeply this book would dig into my heart. As a mother of a (grown) child with a disability, it was not always an easy read for me emotionally. Cynthia Lord realistically describes the emotional stress and relational eggshells family members of those with disabilities sometimes walk upon. 

I highly recommend this book. It's good, authentic storytelling with believable characters.  

Kudos to Cynthia Lord!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Woefully Behind!

Whatever made me think I could keep up the NaNoWriMo pace with three nights of parent/teacher conferences, 25 WEPs (written education plans) and goals due, and preparations for directing an early Christmas Cantata??? 

Watching the gray hairs grow...

NaNo Count: 4264 Words

Monday, November 3, 2008

Five Stages of (an Inner Editor's) Grief

1. Denial and Isolation
You didn't mean to cut me off and continue writing. Did you? It's not possible. I can't believe you don't need me. I'll just wait here until you're ready. Did you say something? No? Oh, that's okay. I'll wait.

2. Anger
Unbelievable! That wanna-be author covered the monitor. With a towel. COVERED IT! How can she let all of those glaring mistakes go by without fixing them???? Just wait. She'll come back crawling on her knees for my help. I'm going to make her grovel. You wait and see. She can't live without me. 

3. Bargaining
Um, hi. It's me. I thought maybe we could negotiate a little give and take in this relationship. You know, work things out? Do you think that if I back off for a while you'd let me fix that little mistake on page 2, and maybe page 4 as well? Page 5 isn't too bad, and ... What? Oh. I see. Yeah, I... I understand. 

4. Depression
How am I? I'm fine, I guess. No. I don't have anything to say. No, I know you don't need my help. Go on. (sniff) I'll be fine. (sniff)

5. Acceptance
Hey, how's the manuscript going? Finished? That's great. Me? I'd love to. Just give me a call sometime when you need me. Tomorrow? Excellent!

BTW: My personal IE is in stage one...
End of Day Nano Count: 2774

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Random Thoughts of "Almost"


1)We celebrated my Dad's "almost" 74th birthday. It's really Wednesday, but we had our get-together today. Lots of good food. Always good company!

2) I wish I could say I've "almost" met my Nano goal for today, but I'm at a sorry 482 words at the moment. It's 10:30 p.m.  I'm going to give it another go when I finish my post. 

3)My blog has been up and running for a week, and I've "almost" had 100 visitors! It was 97 a few minutes ago.  Thanks to everyone who stops by - Ya'll come back now!

Must sign off now, I've almost 1200 words to go...

Update: End of day NaNo count: 2610

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Big-Mouthed Inner Editor

I began my Nano experience this morning. Wow! I never realized what a big mouth my inner editor is. I set only one rule: I may not edit as I go. One rule. Within 2 minutes of writing I was already snarling at my computer, "You're not allowed to edit!" Big habits die hard. 

I finally decided I'm not allowed to look at the screen as I type. It helped. I should probably turn off spell check and grammar check as well. I'm almost to my 1667 words for today. Now that everyone in the house has had their breakfast (I always cook Saturday mornings) I should be able to get the last 552 words for today finished. 

The cool thing is that once I was able to silence my editor (at least in spurts), I discovered I like what I've written. So far. I'm beginning to think I might be able to do this!

Day 1: 1682 words